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Date: July 06, 2001

Province-Wide System Urged to Report Falls

Falls in care facilities happen with startling regularity. Each year, the extended and intermediate care residents at the 273-bed Oak Bay Lodge fall down a combined total of 1,000 times. The results range from wounded pride to fractured bones, yet tracking the causes and circumstances of falls in provincial care facilities is difficult since there is no reporting uniformity among the facilities. A pilot project conducted at the lodge has developed a falls reporting form that UVic led researchers hope will be adopted province-wide.

Dr. Vicky Scott, a faculty member in the school of nursing, led the project after a frustrating experience trying to study the circumstances surrounding a two-year period of fracture-inducing falls at the lodge. She found the information was collected on forms not designed with prevention in mind. There were variations in the interpretation of questions about contributing factors to falls. Comparing the situation at the lodge to other provincial facilities was impossible since each facility uses a different reporting form.

After months of consultation with lodge staff, health care workers, physicians and regional licensing representatives, a generic form was developed. It was tested during a three-month study on one floor of the lodge. Feedback reduced the form's length to two pages. While the form was being streamlined, lodge staff were collecting baseline information about falls that will provide the basis to evaluate if future prevention programs make a difference.

Scott will present the results of the project at a workshop on July 9 at 1:30 p.m. at an international conference on falls prevention. "Expanding Networks: Research, Policy and Practice to Prevent Falls and Injury Among Older Adults" will be held at Victoria's Ocean Pointe Resort from July 8 to 10. Katherine Whittred, B.C. Minister of State for Intermediate, Long Term and Home Care, will open the conference which is sponsored by UVic's school of nursing, centre on aging and the UCLA medical school. Scott will co-present with Dr. Judy Stevens from the national center for injury prevention and control at Atlanta's Centre for Disease Control.

This is the first international conference on research, experiences and initiatives in falls prevention. Dr. Elaine Gallagher (nursing) will conduct a workshop on July 9 at 1:30 p.m. addressing the state of research in the area. Scott also participates in a panel on July 9 at 10:45 a.m. on best practices for falls prevention. She recently conducted an international review of literature on falls for the federal-provincial-territorial ministries responsible for seniors. The resulting guide will be available in B.C. in October through the office for seniors in the ministry of health services.

The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, B.C. Ministry of Health, and Oak Bay Lodge provided funding for Scott's research.

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Media contacts:
To reach Drs. Scott and Gallagher during the conference, contact Patty Pitts (UVic communications) at (250) 721-7656.

UVic media releases and other resources for journalists are available on the World Wide Web at http://communications.uvic.ca/media

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